Monthly Archives: December 2013

Almost a month after the death of Nelson Mandela, every talking head has weighed in with their own memoir or eulogy so what is there to add? Fair question.

Let me simply say that this is a new year’s column – a look forward, not a look back – and it is about a lesson I think worth taking from Mandela and applying in 2014, a lesson not included in the many “Lessons from Mandela” written in recent weeks. Most of these were concerned with choosing reconciliation over revolution, while this is to do with clothes. It may seem like a frivolous topic where someone such as Mandela is concerned, except he clearly took clothes – and their power – seriously, and perhaps we should, too.

I’ve been thinking about presents recently – no surprise, really, as this week marks the official start of the last-minute Christmas panic-buying rush. The irony being that I have spent so much time in the past few weeks immersed in our gift guide that I have not actually bought any gifts.

As this is my last post of the year I thought I’d leave you with a few ideas about the five main thing I’m going to be watching in 2014, and where the action might be (aside from the already well-documented worlds of M&A and IPOs), from store wars to legal battles, consumer behaviour and designers that will make the difference. Read on! 

So marketing megalith IMG has just been sold to private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and talent agency William Morris Endeavor for more than $2.3 billion – which means, as those of us who follow these sorts of thing know, that assorted fashion weeks from New York to London, Berlin, Tokyo, Moscow, Miami, Toronto and Sydney have just also been sold, IMG owning the rights to those events (among others). Which has interesting implications for the debate currently raging in fashion about the purpose of fashion weeks itself: namely, are they for the trade (for buying and selling clothes) or, as fashion becomes more and more a part of pop culture and a driver of social media, are they entertainment for the public and marketing for the brands? 

Google has published its annual list of most-searched names in multiple categories in countries all over the world, and, as we know, there’s one category in particular that sets this blog’s heart to beating: fashion. Unfortunately, the search megalith doesn’t seem to track this particular segment globally (though they do track consumer electronics), or even in every country (surprisingly, for example, they don’t have a retail or high-end designer list for luxury hotspot Italy, nor, to my great frustration, for the UK), but in at least two, the US and France, the results are – well, not what one would expect, to put it mildly. 

Much celebrating (and some amazement) about the stellar stock market debut of Moncler yesterday, with some analysts attributing the excitement over buying into the brand to the idea it could be “ the next Burberry”. But is that true, or wildly optimistic? I can see where they are coming from, but am not necessarily convinced. 

Whoopee: the very fun holiday game of “Who’s Going to Buy Who Next Year?” has officially begun with a launch entry from Bernstein Research, an arm of AllianceBernstein. And what are they thinking? Watches. Watches and jewellery galore. 

Pity the poor fashion editor. Life is so confusing these days. Half the time I am wading through Christmas presents and party dress copy, and the other half I am sitting in designer showrooms, looking at pre-autumn collections full of schoolboy stripes and nipped-in knits (Joseph Altuzarra); easy separates in mixed materials – hand-painted snakeskin and cashmere and leather and silk – (Reed Krakoff); and cosy, nightie-like cashmere dresses and coats (Calvin Klein). It requires an ability to time travel, at least mentally, that would put Dr Who to shame; one moment you’re thinking December; the next, May. Which perhaps explains why, amid all this, I have wearables on the mind. Not clothes, but technology that functions as clothes.

Delphine Arnault, aka the woman who is doing all that designer wooing/moving at LVMH (think Nicolas Ghesquiere to Vuitton, and J.W. Anderson to Loewe), is not the only tall, blonde, smart daughter of a luxury brand founder to be making an impact on the creative side of luxury; now Virginie Courtin-Clarins, aka the granddaughter of the founder of beauty group Clarins, aka the new Director of Development, Marketing and Communications of Mugler Fashion, has just announced the appointment of David Koma as Artistic Director. Like Mr Anderson, Mr Koma is part of the new wave of Hot Young British designers. And like Ms Arnault, Ms Courtin-Clarins, who is in her late 20s, is part of a new generation of luxury scions entering the business and reshaping their brands. 

John Galliano, left, is once again making clothes, but this time in a slightly different incarnation. Mr Galliano is going to design the costumes for Stephen Fry’s production of “The Importance of Being Ernest” – including the looks that Mr Fry himself will wear as Lady Bracknell in the production, which will involve some gender-bending, and open at the Theatre Royal in the autumn of 2014. So what do we think? Is this comeback, unlike the last three comeback attempts, going to work? My guess: possibly. I think it certainly has the best chance thus far.